Until tonight's show I didn't know what a "Sovern Wealth Fund" was. See this link for more info:
My only rebuttal to the transcript is that I disagree with Professor Ken Rogoff that our trade deficits are being caused by our (U.S. or individual?) savings rate. I believe the cause of the trade deficit is that we get our goods from China, services from India, and energy from the middle east - and don' t have much to offer in exchange. Even if every American saved 10% of their income this trade deficit for fuel and disposables would continue.
DOBBS: It's time for economic consequences because of the public policies that have been followed by this country for 30 years. America is not only for sale, it's a fire sale. And a Singapore Sovereign Wealth Fund now says it will offer greater disclosure of its activities following major investments in two U.S. companies. This comes after rising concerns of foreign governments...
DOBBS: ... in the United States. Critics fear those governments could become increasingly influential as they buy large stakes in everything from the NASDAQ stock market to critical defense technology and they are also warning there are no guarantees about those government's intentions, as Christen Romans now reports.
ROMANS (voice-over): Bad bets on sub prime mortgages have left marquee financial companies desperate for cash. Middle Eastern and Asian governments have it thanks to America's massive appetite for imported oil and manufactured goods. China has invested billions in Bear Stearns and Morgan Stanley. Singapore has shored up Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, Merrill also tapping Kuwait, South Korea and wealthy Saudi investors. Each investment just under the threshold to trigger examination by U.S. authorities, yet the usual concerns about the intentions of the government are notably silent.
SEN. JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: We're seeing some sort of willful turning of the blind eye to potential dangers here. And we need as a government to examine very carefully the national interests that is at risk here.
ROMANS: Some say the uneasy reality is beggars can't be choosers, but...
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D-IN), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: We should not sell our sovereignty for any price, so we should welcome the capital. We want the investments. It strengthens our economy, but governments are different than private investors and from time to time governments will have interests other than simply maximizing their profits.
ROMANS: What those profits are we don't know except for Norway's Sovereign Wealth Funds they don't disclose performance, assets or objectives. The Treasury Department puts Sovereign Wealth Fund holdings at $2.5 trillion and growing by a trillion dollars a year, reaching according to one forecast, $13.4 trillion in a decade, roughly the size of the entire U.S. economy today.
PROF. KEN ROGOFF, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: If we're really bothered by the Sovereign Wealth Funds and we don't like the idea that they're buying up so much of our assets, then we ought to figure a way to raise our savings rate so that we're not running these giant trade deficits because of that at the end of the day is what's pouring money into the rest of the world that's coming back in the form of these Sovereign Wealth Funds.
ROMANS: He says without their infusions of cash, the financial crisis in this country today would be far worse.
ROMANS: The Treasury Department and the president just last week downplayed concerns about the intentions of Sovereign Wealth Funds saying above all the United States is open for international investment and will remain so. Even critics say this country is frankly in no position to turn down foreign government investment into U.S. infrastructure, into U.S. companies because of our trade deficits and our current situation.
DOBBS: Well as the good professor pointed out, and it's nice to hear Harvard breaking with orthodoxy, at least in his case, suggesting that we have to look at these trade imbalances, which I have been says literally for years and years. Now the trade debt is over $6 trillion.
The fact is that Henry Paulson and this economic team and this failed administration in terms of economic policy, they have to say whatever they can about this money because without that foreign capital we have institution after institution that simply insolvent.
ROMANS: And there's also this feeling, Lou that many people say with no evidence they're anything but long-term investors in the capital system...
DOBBS: In the case of the Sovereign Wealth Fund?
ROMANS: Right. Exactly, that they're just your average long- term investor with hundreds of billions of dollars, we don't even know how much money is out there, that there's been no evidence that they're trying to do anything to -- you know untoward at this point but there still are those questions out there that national interests can sometimes trump investment interests and we just haven't seen that yet.
DOBBS: In every country of course but this where the national interest is never considered by any part of our government or corporate America. Thank you very much, Christine Romans.